The Safari was at the nature reserve fairly early this morning. Unlike our last visit there were plenty of Blackbirds particularly in the well berried Hawthorn hedge along the allotments. What a shame the farmers have already flailed off almost every berry on the roadside hedges round these parts - it's almost as if they don't want any wildlife in our countryside, those hedges have no shelter, no berries, no undergrowth and consequently probably hardly any invertebrates either. At least there's plenty of berries on the reserve although the Apples are taking a hammering from human thieves.
A trio of Chaffinches flew over southwards as we walked down the track, a sign of some visible migration but we didn't see or hear much more, the seven incoming Tufted Ducks looked like they'd just flown across the field from the park lake. The usual look from the Viewing Platform gave us a decent count of two dozen Shovelers and hiding among them a couple of Wigeon, so there had been some migration over night or at least in recent days. Along with those were a few Teal, a couple of Gadwall and a reasonable number of Mallards, yet again no Bitterns or Otters though.
A quick peak under the refugium didn't give us any Great Crested Newts or Short Tailed Field Voles today - can't win em all! Down at Heron Hide a Cetti's Warbler sang briefly and a little further a Chiffchaff sang too. We only went as far as the scrape where we saw more Teal and half a dozen more Shovelers making about 30 in all, we'd seen a few flying down the mere on our walk down.
Making our way back we came across a Brown Hawker dragonfly and a couple of spikes of Toadflax still in flower at the side of the track.
A flock of four Jackdaws going steady south over the mere were likely to have been migrants but the two Reed Buntings that bunked in to the reeds were probably local birds so we were still short of some decent vis mig to record. It was then we had the morning's best sighting, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers came flying towards us, they then circled round the end of the reserve three or four times before dropping in to the top of the tallest tree. They didn't stay there long as within a few minutes they were both off south together, at last a bit of migration. A second Chiffchaff sang from the scrub beyond the large tree while we were watching the woodpeckers.
The walk back along the field was uneventful until we were caught up by LR and while chatting another Cetti's Warbler fired up from the wetland.
Once again we learned we'd missed the biggy, this time long after we left rather than the 'usual' five minutes, a Great White Egret (another missing off our Marton Mere list) but the two Ravens weren't more than half an hour after we'd gone...dohhh are we ever going to see these there???
In the afternoon we took Monty to his favourite field and as we were wandering around the rides mown through the new woodland we heard a Willow Warbler give a couple of short bursts of song. Further on a freshly deceased Short Tailed Field Vole was found on the side of the path, a victim of someone's dog or perhaps a cat we hadn't seen. A friend's dog started digging furiously after something in the grass, soil was flying everywhere. When Monty joined in we went to investigate and found a small Frog sneaking away through the grass. While the dogs' attention was still focused in the hole we took it away and put out of harm's way on the other side of the path. Then as we were leaving we spotted a bird dropping in from an enormous height, it turned out to be a Blackbird and it went straight into one of the thickest tallest clumps of older trees - interesting and likely to be a late mover looking for somewhere to root.
Where to next? There's a bit of a weather front moving through this evening so we might try that field again early doors tomorrow morning, the front might arrive a bit too early though.In the meantime let us know who's ringing rings round you in your outback.